Against the Spread: Conference Championship Game Picks

Jan 17, 2013

KaepernickWe’re back again with another batch of expert picks for this weekend’s games. After a 2-2 showing in the Divisional round, the expert consensus now sits at 6-2 vs. the spread for the playoffs.


Before we move ahead to this week’s picks, let’s give some credit to the experts who are coming off of a perfect (4-0) week: Ryan Forbes (2MugsFF), C.D. Carter (Sports Jerks) and Pat Fitzmaurice (Pro Football Weekly). For Forbes, the flawless performance elevates his record to 7-1 against the spread for the playoffs. That’s tops of all the experts we’re tracking.


So who do the pundits like in the conference title games? Read on to view their predictions. Similar to previous weeks, the experts provided commentary for their “best bet” of the weekend slate.



SF @ ATL (+4): Sunday, 3:00pm EST


 84%  16%
“Matt Ryan and the Falcons finally got that elusive playoff victory last week, but the difficulty they had putting away the Seahawks hardly inspires confidence. The 49ers are just so good at controling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. This is the rare instance in which I feel pretty good about giving away points with a visiting team in a playoff game.” – Pat Fitzmaurice (Pro Football Weekly)
“I like this number slightly more at +4.5 (where it’s widely available at now). I have this game as a pick ’em, so getting the home team plus 3/4 points is my play. I was as high as anyone on SF last week, so why the change?  First, GB in my mind was overrated and a huge public favorite. Seeing a public favorite get throttled puts the public firmly on the side of San Fran, no matter the circumstances. I think Atlanta’s underrated D will be very prepared for what Kaep and Harbaugh throw at them. Take the points and sprinkle some on ATL moneyline.” – Ryan Forbes (2MugsFF)
“The 49ers just ran the Packers off the field and Atlanta isn’t great against the run. Add in their elite defense and the fact that they were in the NFC title game last year, too, and I think they’ll have more than enough to vault themselves into the Super Bowl.” – Kevin Roberts (NFL Soup)
“After nearly choking last week, the Falcons made plays when it counted and reversed their recent playoff fortunes as they escaped with a win over a really good Seahawks team.  With Matt Ryan and Mike Smith getting their first playoff win in four tries, the Falcons will play with less pressure and more confidence and, at least, keep this game close.” – Kevin Hanson (EDSFootball)
“The 49ers are on such a roll that I have a hard time picking against them. Plus, the Falcons looked shaky last week in victory, which is a concern for me. I just have a lot more faith in San Francisco, and Colin Kaepernick continues to get better and better each start.” – Jeff Paur (RTSports)
 Jeff Brubach (The Fake Football)
“Atlanta cannot stop the run. San Francisco is the best running team in the NFL right now. Add those two together, and you have a likely blowout coming, in San Francisco’s favor.” – Muntradamus (Beast Dome)
 Tony Mauriello (FantasyTrade411)
“Atlanta barely hung on after a ton of Seattle miscues and breakdowns spotted them a 20 point lead. The 49ers are battle-tested and won’t make it nearly as easy on them to hang in the game.” – Sigmund Bloom (FootballGuys)
 Dan Yanotchko (EDSFootball)
“The Atlanta Falcons have struggled with mobile quarterbacks all season, whether it be RGIII, Cam Newton or Russell Wilson. In fact, the Falcons ranked 28th in rushing yards allowed to fantasy quarterbacks and their 3 rushing touchdowns allowed to fantasy quarterbacks were tied for the sixth most. 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick is on a roll right now having posted the fifth most yards from scrimmage by a quarterback in NFL playoff history last week. I expect the 49ers to play well on offense and with their stout defense they should be able to win by more than four points.” – Derek Lofland (FFManiax)
“Not supremely confident in either pick, and I know it’s weird that the Falcons are a home dog, but I think the Niners are going to smack them around. If Kaepernick plays well – not out of his mind like last week, just well – they’re the best team left.” – John Halpin (Fox Sports)
“Everyone had been waiting to bet against Atlanta at home in the playoffs for weeks. The problem is that last week turned out to be a winnable game against a Seattle team that just wasn’t the same team on the road and who was a West Coast team playing in the dreaded 1:00 p.m. Eastern time slot. But this week Atlanta will face a team that is actually better than them in San Francisco. This is the week we’ve all been waiting for.” – Brett Talley (The Fantasy Fix)
“The 49ers continue to look like the best team with the best coach in the league, so I’m rolling with them again in the conference championships. I don’t like laying four points on the road, but the Niners have the perfect of blend of explosive offense and crowd-silencing defense to cover that spread.” – Greg Smith (The Fake Football)
“Atlanta has yet to limit an option type QB and SF has a legit defense that will make Atlanta a one dimensional team.” – Ken Zalis (Fans Fantasy Football)
“Kaepernick is a Man on Fire. ATL is a bad timeout away from a loss last week. Much like GB, the Falcons cannot stop the run.” – Raju Byfield (Win My Fantasy League)
“After gashing Green Bay, San Fran is on a roll and looks to be unstoppable.  Atlanta will have a difficult time containing a red hot 49er team.” – Joe Dyken (FFNerd)
“San Francisco has the best defense in the field. Their offense is humming. They are the most phyiscal team on both sides of the ball.” – Ryan Lester (Lesters Legends)
“I’m a believer now. Atlanta gave up roughly 1,400 yards to Russell Wilson and Cam Newton torched them in the regular season. Kaep is making Harbaugh look like the smartest man to ever live. (Even if I’m still Team Alex Smith)” – Andrew Norton (GHL Fantasy)
“The 49ers defense is just too strong, and Colin Kaepernick is becoming a force in this league. He won’t be easy to stop for the Falcons.” – Keet Bailey (NFL Soup)
 Mike Tagliere (Tags Fantasy Football)
 C.D. Carter (Sports Jerks)
 R.J. White (FFCafe)
 Zach Greubel (Win My Fantasy League)
 Walton Spurlin (Fantasy Sharks)
 Scott Engel (RotoExperts)
 Michael Pichan (RotoInfo)
 Austin Lee (ProFootballFocus)
 James Hatfield (Hatty Waiver Wire Guru)
 Joel Beall (Fox Sports)
 Mike Clay (Pro Football Focus)
 Brent Namejko (Fantasy Smack Talk)



BAL @ NE (-9): Sunday, 6:30pm EST


66%  34%
“Baltimore always plays the Pats tough and 9 is a lot of points to be giving. I’m not a believer in the whole team of destiny theory but think that the Ravens have no fear of the Patriots and feel like they can win this one outright. Flacco has been very efficient throughout the playoffs and has the weapons to hang in with Brady and company.” – Walton Spurlin (Fantasy Sharks)
“As I said last week, the Patriots aren’t afraid to blow teams out and keep their foot on the throttle. The Ravens have stepped up on an emotional level, but I say that ride ends this Sunday in Foxborough. The Ravens simply don’t have the secondary to keep up with the Pats weapons, not to mention the holes in their ground game.” – Mike Tagliere (Tags Fantasy Football)
“The Ravens may not win this game but they will keep it close. They are being propelled by momentum and emotion, obviously, but they are also being well-coached and are playing smart, disciplined football. Baltimore has relished the opportunity to get this chance to take on the Patriots again, and this will be another postseason thriller.” – Scott Engel (RotoExperts)
“The Patriots dominated the Texans at home. The one question mark is Gronk is out, but hey, they have Aaron Hernandez. Baltimore should have lost in Denver. They’ll lose in New England.” – Zach Greubel (Win My Fantasy League)
“The Ravens appear to be peaking at the right time, taking down unarguably (before last week) one of the top two teams in the AFC in Denver. Should the Ravens’ special teams bounce back, I don’t see how a Rob Gronkowski-less Patriots squad is going to win by more than a TD. This line feels at least two lines too high, if not more.” – R.J. White (FFCafe)
“New England’s offense looks unstoppable and Baltimore’s defense is really going to have to show up to keep the Brady bunch from winning.” – James Hatfield (Hatty Waiver Wire Guru)
“Tom Brady, in his past six games against Baltimore, has completed 59 percent of his passes, including seven touchdowns and eight interceptions. The Ravens have sacked Brady 15 times in those matchups. After allowing 382 yards and three touchdown passes to Joe Flacco in their Week 3 tilt, there’s no reason to believe New England’s defense will shut down the Baltimore offense, however schizophrenic it is.” – C.D. Carter (Sports Jerks)
“Baltimore’s offense is wildly inconsistent because it’s completely built around connecting on big passing plays. After two weeks of ridiculous success with deep passes, inconsistency will rear its ugly head in a blowout loss to the Pats.” – Austin Lee (Pro Football Focus)
“The Patriots have faced the Baltimore Ravens seven times with Tom Brady at the helm, and while the Pats are 5-2 in those matchups, they have only won one game by more than seven points. Look for a reinvigorated Ravens’ defense to pressure Brady and rattle him. Flacco should have a big game while trying to keep the shootout game close and I expect Ray Rice to see plenty of dump-off passes. Ultimately, the Pats win the game, but the Ravens keep it within 9 points.” – Tony Mauriello (FantasyTrade411)
“New England has been an offensive machine, as they have put up no less than 23 points per game in the last 10 weeks, and it will take 30+ to beat them at Foxboro. For as great as the offensive numbers of the Ravens have been, they have been living on the deep ball as Joe Flacco has only completed 52.6% of his passes in the playoffs. The Patriots are of course known for their aerial attack, but they also have a favorable matchup against a 20th ranked Ravens rushing defense that allows 122 yards per game and 4.0 yards per carry. Finally, the Patriots are 5-1 in conference championship games (3-0 at home). They will not let this chance go by the boards as their window is closing.” – Dan Yanotchko (EDSFootball)
“I like New England to beat Baltimore, but I’ll be surprised if the Ravens can’t keep this a one-score game after handling the top-seeded Broncos in Denver this past week. BAL figures to have to throw the ball more than usual in order to keep up with the fast-paced, high-scoring New England offense. That will put a lot of pressure on Joe Flacco to keep up his strong postseason. Head-to-head with Tom Brady, I expect him to come up short.” – Mike Clay (Pro Football Focus)
“Ray Lewis’ little run is finally going to come to an end. I don’t see BAL putting up over 25 points and NE seems to put up 35 points every single week.” – Brent Namejko (Fantasy Smack Talk)
 Joel Beall (Fox Sports)  Joe Dyken (FFNerd)
 Ryan Lester (Lesters Legends)  Raju Byfield (Win My Fantasy League)
 Michael  Pichan (RotoInfo)  Pat Fitzmaurice (Pro Football Weekly)
 Sigmund Bloom (FootballGuys)  Muntradamus (Beast Dome)
 Jeff Brubach (The Fake Football)  Keet Bailey (NFL Soup)
 Greg Smith (The Fake Football)
 Brett Talley (The Fantasy Fix)
 Andrew Norton (GHL Fantasy)
 Kevin Roberts (NFL Soup)
 Derek Lofland (FFManiax)
 John Halpin (Fox Sports)
 Kevin Hanson (EDSFootball)
 Jeff Paur (RTSports)
 Ryan Forbes (2MugsFF)
 Ken Zalis (Fans Fantasy Football)


Thanks to the experts for taking the time to give us their predictions. We’ll be back again to reveal their consensus Super Bowl pick when the matchup is set. Enjoy the games this weekend!


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